Mining People Matters

Steve Heather

Steve Heather, Managing Director and Co-founder of Mining People International (MPi).

All hail the mine site general manager

The mine site general manager is often the unsung hero of a mining company. Steve Heather offers his opinion why.

All hail the mine site general manager

Or, in fact, any general manager (GM) running a business remote from corporate headquarters.

You  can:

  • Find an ore body
  • Submit a feasibility study
  • Finance the project
  • And, finally, build the mine. 

After all of that, a different kind of work starts.

The excitement of discovery, pursuit of the money, and seeing something grow before your eyes provides a natural energy source. 

Then someone has to turn all the dreams, hopes, and commitments into daily deliverables. This is done by measuring KPIs and conducting performance reviews, all in the pursuit of optimising output and minimising expense.

These operational pursuits bring an entirely different kind of pressure.

Until that point the explorers, and to some extent the financiers, studiers and builders  are instinctively cut some slack. It is understood success is not guaranteed and there is somewhat of a creative licence to fail during the exploration phase.

After that, things are entirely different. Someone has to make it all work.

The pressure on the implementor of the vision — the mine site GM — is often immense. It  has been proclaimed that the project  WILL and SHOULD succeed.

In mining in particular, the average mine site general manager is akin to a state manager in any other business. Being distinctly remote from corporate HQ, the mine site GM needs to put their own stamp on culture and create a remote workplace that exhibits a life of its own. They have to rock up every day with love and courage and deal with the issues of the night.

Their closest mentor is often many miles and hours away and available only by a phone call.

It’s a role with an extraordinary challenge, especially when they are responsible for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars of investment. From where I watch the world of mining, the mine site general manager is often under-recognised.

All hail the mine site general manager.

To all you GMs out there doing the job remotely, I salute you.

To all you CEOs and MDs, make sure you hire a damn good one. If you want some help with that, contact us for a demonstration of MPi’s targeted executive search service.